As India gears up to launch the biggest COVID-19 vaccination program in the world, social media websites have gone abuzz with a rather abrupt claim that drinking Rasam helps in getting rid of the dreaded novel coronavirus.
For the unversed, Rasam is a popular South Indian soup prepared mainly using tamarind, turmeric, pepper, mustard, cumin and other spices. It is known to have several health benefits such as preventing constipation and boosting immunity.
Even though the much-loved drink in southern India is packed with essential minerals and vitamins, the claim that it kills off the fatal virus seems a little too far-fetched. The claim was made in a statement by Tamil Nadu minister Rajendra Balaji.
While praising the Tamil Nadu government for taking timely and effective measures to contain the spread of COVID-19, he had said, "Make Rasam and sambhar a part of your regular diet. Drink half or a full glass of rasam and the coronavirus will run away or die. I also drink rasam every day. Wherever I go, I drink rasam."
As soon as the statement was picked up by media, it has gone viral reiterating the claim that drinking Rasam is a sure shot way to keep COVID-19 at bay. It's still doing rounds on the Internet.
Upon seeing that the Rasam claim was spreading like wildfire, the fact checking desk of IB Times India, set out to investigate the claim and did not come across any medical research or comments by an expert to corroborate that the popular drink helps in killing the novel coronavirus.
Notably, similar claims were made during the initial period of the pandemic as well and several doctors including Chennai-based Homeopathy specialist Dr A Cecilie Margrate had debunked the Rasam theory back then.
"Yes, our Indian herbs have the unique tendency to prevent any kind of infections and viruses. As Rasam powder consists of ingredients like turmeric which is an antibiotic, it sure has the power to prevent foreign hosts. But, one cannot conclude that it can kill the virus," Margrate told a local daily.
What WHO says
Moreover, the World Health Organisation has very clearly stated that turmeric, ginger, pepper and other spices, which are the basic ingredients of Rasam, do not offer 100% protection from COVID-19.
Therefore, based on above clarifications, it can be concluded that the viral claim is false as there is no scientific evidence to back it. Nevertheless, Rasam is certainly a healthy drink that helps in building immunity so savouring it from time to time will only provide multiple benefits.